Khalid Essa, the first-choice goalkeeper of hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE), has said that the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup campaign with his club Al Ain has boosted his confidence heading into AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Essa is one of the seven Al Ain stars who are part of Alberto Zaccheroni’s UAE side that will face Bahrain in the tournament opener at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Dubai on January 5.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper was shootout hero twice against New Zealand side Team Wellington and Copa Libertadores champions River Plate as Al Ain reached the final of the tournament only to be second-best to European champions Real Madrid despite the custodian making save after save.
“My performances in the Club World Cup, which saw Al Ain make the final, came thanks to the cooperation of all my colleagues and the support of the fans,” Essa was quoted as saying by Sport360.com.
“The tournament has strengthened my confidence and increased my international experience. Participating in the Club World Cup is a great opportunity that I tried to exploit and to do my best,” the Al Ain star said.
The goalkeeper hopes that the experience he has gained will put him in good stead when he turns out for the national team at the continental championship to be held in the Emirates form January 5 to February 1.
“I stress that I came out with great technical benefits from this tournament, that I wish helps boost my participation with the national team at the AFC Asian Cup 2019,” Essa said.
“I am ready to represent my country in this important tournament. I will do everything I can for my country. All the players in the team are ready to do their best,” he added.
UAE are pooled with Thailand, Bahrain and India in Group A of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
(Photo credit: The National)